Instruct launch signals new opportunities for European science

Breakthroughs in biomedical science are a step closer today, with the launch of a new distributed research infrastructure for the science of structural biology. The launch of Instruct, coordinated by Professor David Stuart, will give academic and commercial scientists across Europe access to a full portfolio of integrated technologies, thanks to the collaboration of fourteen of Europe’s leading structural biology research institutes.

Prof. Dave Stuart, Instruct Director, said; “Never before have European biologists had a single point of access to all the technology and expertise they need to further their research. By bringing together the different disciplines, technologies and experts in European biology, Instruct will be helping to make the vision of truly integrated biology a reality for the first time.”

The first researcher to test the unique access to technology through Instruct, Dr. Colin McVey from the Instituto de Tecnologia Química e Biológica, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal, is using Instruct to further his research in structural immunology. Dr. McVey, said: “I am delighted that my proposal has been accepted by Instruct. It will be of great advantage and benefit for me, and for other European researchers, to be able to access the best technology around Europe through a single application. I am looking forward to carrying out the work with the help of the technology experts and to further my research development.”

Instruct provides access to some of the most advanced technology in the world, such as sample preparation for cryo-electron tomography using ion beam milling housed at the Max Planck Institute Martinsried in Germany and the automated system for mammalian expression housed at Oxford in the UK, both of which are at the frontier of current technology. A full catalogue of the accessible technology is available on the Instruct Hub.

Prof. Dino Moras, Principal Investigator at IGBMC-CERBM Instruct Centre in Strasbourg added; "Structural biology is at a critical stage where close integration with cell biology will open up new and powerful insights into treating diseases, from killer cancers to the common cold. Instruct will have a big impact on medical advances over the next decade."

Instruct is a thriving online community of over 500 scientists from 25 countries. Each user can tailor their profile to match their interests and priorities. The Instruct Hub includes adverts for jobs and academic programmes and a comprehensive calendar of events, discussion forums and plans for virtual workspaces for collaborative projects in the near future. The Instruct Hub is also home to a number of networks of scientists with a common interest or objective.

Eight countries; Czech Republic, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, The Netherlands, Portugal and the United Kingdom have subscribed, ensuring that researchers from those countries can access the technology and expertise offered through Instruct.

The 15 Instruct Centres are providing up to 20% of their resources for access through Instruct. This resource is worth in excess of €4million but costs more to maintain and develop.

The single Instruct application process is used to access all the technology available at all of the Instruct centres, often as collaborations. The online application process includes review of the science and a technical feasibility appraisal.

Stephen Cusack, Head of Outstation of EMBL in Grenoble invited researchers to join Instruct:
“The Instruct website, ‘the Hub’ is at the heart of what Instruct can offer, from the research proposal application process and the database of technologies to the forums and collaborative workspaces. Additionally, it has a wealth of useful resources like the calendar of events, job adverts and information about funding. We are inviting researchers from all disciplines to register so that they can make the most of Instruct.”

Instruct will be formally launched at a signing ceremony in Brussels on 23 of February attended by the Principal Investigators of each of the Instruct Centres, the national and regional funding agencies and Robert-Jan Smits, European Commission Director-General for Research and Innovation.